Officials were asked to inspect all childcare centers run by the charity after a nun and an employee were arrested earlier this month for allegedly selling a baby in the eastern state of Jharkhand, the BBC reports. The center provides shelter for unmarried, pregnant women.
According to a statement from India’s women and child welfare department, it had “instructed the states to get childcare homes run by Missionaries of Charity all over the country inspected immediately.”
Missionaries of Charity called the news of the arrest “shocking” and said the incident was “against our moral conviction.” The charity said it would investigate the episode as well.
“We will take all necessary precautions that it never happens again, if it has happened,” Sunita Kumar of the Missionaries of Charity told the BBC.
Adoption is a notoriously slow process in India, and this has helped fuel rampant illegal adoption across the country. According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, India has more than 230,000 children in official and unofficial shelters. However some estimates on the number of orphans in the country are as high as 30 million, the Guardian reports.
Missionaries of Charity used to facilitate adoptions but in 2015 the Roman Catholic order shut down adoptions rather than comply with an Indian law that eases the process for divorced and single people.
Missionaries of Charities was established in 1950 by Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work helping the sick and poor. She died in 1997 and was made Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis in 2016.